Iconic jazz keyboardist Chick Corea dead at 79

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Legendary jazz keyboardist Chick Corea has died at the age of 79.

“It is with great sadness we announce that on February 9th, Chick Corea passed away at the age of 79, from a rare form of cancer which was only discovered very recently,” an announcement on Corea’s Facebook page, posted Thursday afternoon, read.

Corea “was a beloved husband, father and grandfather, and a great mentor and friend to so many,” the message continued, in part.

“Though he would be the first to say that his music said more than words ever could, he nevertheless had this message for all those he knew and loved, and for all those who loved him: ‘I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.’

“And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you.”

Corea was an important figure in the development of post-war jazz. He spent time with Miles Davis’ groundbreaking electric group, playing on a number of albums that have passed into jazz legend.

After releasing more straightforward records at the beginning of his career — with the 1968 trio record “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” a highlight — Corea launched his electric group Return to Forever with an album of the same name, now seen as a watershed recording for jazz fusion, which was set to become the dominant permutation of jazz for the 1970s.

Corea was often seen — along with Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett — as one of the most important pianists in jazz after the 1960s. He continued to tour and record in various configurations after the dissolution of Return to Forever. He maintained and rotated through both “Elektric” and “Akoustic” bands that were often in high demand at international festivals and venues closer to home, both anchored by Brooklyn native John Patitucci on bass.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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